If you find yourself deep in the interior of western Kenya, you’ll come across the very small town of Malava. In Malava, if you travel down one very long and bumpy dirt road, you will see Tumaini Miles of Smiles Children’s Home. Tumaini is the Swahili word for hope and it offers just that to many orphans and vulnerable children in Kenya. One such child is Vivian, and this is her story.
Today, you’ll find Vivian far away from the small, remote children’s home where she grew up. Today, Vivian is a student at the University of Nairobi pursuing a medical degree. God’s sovereign plan has been unfolding in her life amid difficult circumstances. Her father died from AIDS when Vivian was 7 years old. After this family tragedy, her mother, infected with HIV, approached Rose Bugusu, director of the children’s home, asking if she would take her daughter in at Tumaini. Her mother had just been kicked out of their home by her deceased husband’s family who wanted the family land. Her son, Vivian’s brother, suffers from a heart problem, and she was desperate for her daughter to be cared for and not left to their vulnerable circumstances. So, in 2006, as Tumaini officially began, Vivian was in the first class of students.
By the time Vivian began Class 3, her instructors knew she was exceptionally smart. That year she led her class in scores, a feat which she has continued throughout her schooling. The summer of 2009, a volunteer team visited Tumaini when Vivian mentioned that she wanted to be a doctor. An American doctor and regular visitor to Tumaini, Mark McLaughlin, was on this team and promised her that if she did well in school, he would pay her high school fees. As long as Vivian wanted to pursue her education, Dr. Mark said he would pay for it. He continued to visit Tumaini and would always let Vivian shadow him during medical clinics.
In 2009, Vivian accompanied Rose on a visit to the United States where she experienced many “firsts.” She attended an American school, met many new friends, and even shadowed Dr. Mark in his Atlanta medical practice. Any guesses what she dressed up like for Halloween? A doctor. This time in the USA helped Vivian to realize how God had not forgotten her at Tumaini. Although her earthly father had passed away – God had truly been father to the fatherless in her life.
Aware of the incredible opportunity presented to her, Vivian continued to work as hard as she could to score the highest grades she could. She also became a follower of Christ at Tumaini in 2010. She honored God in her work ethic and eventually graduated near the top of her class.
Vivian represents the first generation of Tumaini students that have been through school and are now pursuing higher education. God gifted Vivian with exceptional intelligence and has showered her with His grace by providing for her needs through Tumaini. Rose’s obedience to God to care for orphans through Tumaini has directly impacted Vivian and so many other vulnerable children. Vivian’s mother is in poor health and earns a meager living by cleaning a local HIV clinic. But her future is hopeful because her daughter is on a path prepared for her by the Lord that allows her to care and provide for her mother. Vivian desires to use the gifts and education God is giving her to help others, and more specifically, to help others at Tumaini. She wants to share the hope that God has shared with her.
Rose’s obedience to the Lord resulted in a small children’s home in western Kenya that offers tumaini to orphans and vulnerable children. Rose, and all of us, are the people with the most tumaini, because our Father has blessed us with it through Christ. When we advocate for Rose and the work going on at Tumaini, we help to empower girls like Vivian. When our friends and families partner with 127 Worldwide, we all get to join our father in his mission to RESTORE HOPE to the hopeless. We must use our voices and leverage our influence for the kingdom. We must do this for children like Vivian and for justice seekers like Rose, all for God’s purposes and His glory!
by Christy Britton